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Great Expectations (1946) Film Review

Updated on December 22, 2019
John Mills
Jean Simmons
Young Estelle
Tony Wager
Young Pip
Martita Hunt
Miss Havisham
Valerie Hobson
Finlay Currie
Abel Magwitch
Alec Guiness
Herbert Pocket

About the film

  • Released: 1946
  • Director: David Leon
  • Producers: Anthony Havelock-Allen, Ronald Neame
  • Running time: 1 hr 58 mins
  • Genre: Mystery, Drama, Adventure
  • Budget: £350,000
  • General Film Distributors (UK), Universal International (US)

The Film

Phillip 'Pip' Pirrip is an orphaned child who lives with his older sister and husband. His brother-in-law is a Blacksmith. Whilst out one day, Pip bumps into a criminal called Magwitch. He scares young Pip into getting him a file for his chain and some food. Meanwhile, Miss Havisham is rich old eccentric lady who lives in a mansion with her adopted daughter, named Estelle. She, MIss Havisham, wants young Pip to visit her once or twice a week to keep her company. She also wants to watch him and Estelle play together, like cards for instance. Estelle isn't a very nice young lady and seems to get pleasure in being rude to Pip and calling him names. Pip, however, still falls in love with her.

At the age of 14, he starts an apprenticeship as a Blacksmith. So this stops him from visiting Miss Havisham. When he turns 20 yrs of age, he learns from a lawyer called Mr Jaggers that a secret benefactor has offered to pay for tuition to turn him into a gentleman, with 'great expectations.' Mr Jaggers is lawyer to Miss Havisham, so Pip naturally assumes that she she is the benefactor. Pip travels to London and does his training to become a gentleman where he learns to dress and act as gentlemen do. He shares a room with Herbert Pocket, played by Alec Guiness.

But then, when pip is 21, he gets a request to visit Miss Havisham, so he returns home where Estelle is now also a young lady. It is interesting to see the relationship between these 2 people now they are adults. Throughout the film there are a few surprises and twists and turns. As he returns to London a gentleman, it is interesting to see the relationship between him and Miss Havisham, and more importantly, Estelle.

My Thoughts

This, to me, is one of those classic films that I could watch over and over again. Charles Dickens was an excellent creator of stories, and this is certainly one of them. Miss Havisham's house has a gothic feel to it with the dust and cobwebs that cover everything. It gives it an eerie feeling and we see how eccentric this old lady is. Miss Havisham may come across as a bit strange and unstable, but there are reasons behind this from her younger days. As the wealthy spinster strikes up with the young boy Pip, we see how he grows to like her as he grows into adulthood. There is also the strange relationship between himself and Estelle. Although she was mean to Pip, he still falls in love with her.

Although there are not many characters in the film, it is interesting to see the relationship Pip has between Miss Havisham, Estelle and the escaped prisoner, Magwitch. And I love how this story was written. As one would naturally assume that Miss Havisham is the benefactor for Pip's education. So, along with the story of love and betrayal between him and Estelle, you've got the surprise element too.

I think this is a very endearing film that is still lovely to watch today. John Mills plays an excellent part as Pip as a young man. And I think the acting between himself and the actors who play Estelle and Miss Havisham is exceptional. This film is, indeed, a timeless classic and is always lovely to watch over the Christmas period.

© 2019 Louise Powles


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